WATCH NOW: Making a joyful noise for the Fourth of July | Local News

This weekend marks the High Holy Days for community bands.

And you thought it was just our nation’s birthday!

When it comes to the Fourth of July, my mind immediately goes to John Philip Sousa, Irving Berlin and “Semper Paratus.”

We are so lucky in Kenosha to have a thriving city-sponsored music group, the Kenosha Pops Concert Band.

That the Pops is celebrating its 100th season this summer is just more icing on the nation’s birthday cake. It doesn’t get more Americana than listening to — or playing in — a community band in a local park.

To do anything for a century is an accomplishment, and the Pops Band reflects the enduring importance of music in our lives.

While our nation remains fiercely divided over politics, we can all agree that the Fourth of July isn’t complete until we’ve heard (or played) “The Stars and Stripes Forever.”

Music just makes everything better and speaks to all generations. Consider that the Pops Band’s membership includes newly minted high school graduates, performing alongside trumpet player Ralph Morrison, who first joined the group back in 1945, the same year World War II ended, the United Nations was founded and Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier in baseball (signing with the Dodgers before playing with Montreal in the minor leagues before joining Brooklyn in 1947).

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Five years later, in 1950, a young fella named Marv Miller first joined the band, as a saxophone player.

You’ll find Morrison and Miller on the band shell each week, which is amazing and a great example of how playing music keeps your mind sharp and your heart filled with joy.

As for myself, I first joined the Pops almost 30 years ago, making me — in comparison — practically a rookie.

pops-apalooza

The Pops Band will be busy for the holiday, playing on a Sunday float in the Civic Veterans Parade and performing its patriotic-themed July 4 concert starting at 4 pm Monday on the band shell.

Just north of us, the Racine Concert Band is likewise celebrating its centennial season, and several musicians — myself included — play in both groups.

The Racine group opens its summer season with a free concert 7:30 Sunday night in the Racine Zoo. Then, on Monday morning, the band plays on a float in that super long Racine 4th of July Parade.

That adds up to two concerts and two parades, on two days, in two cities, with two different bands, playing four different sets of music.

No wonder I fall asleep with visions of F sharps dancing in my head.

Happy Birthday?

The reason for this busy band schedule is, of course, the United States’ 246th birthday.

It’s not easy to get in a celebratory mood this July 4, with so many people in our country seemingly (and, alas, sometimes literally) at each other’s throats.

But that’s sort of an American tradition, too, to bemoan the state of our union and say, “I can’t imagine a time when the US was in worse shape.”

It helps to remember that our nation’s birthday is pretty much like your birthday (except with fireworks), meaning it’s a time for friends and family members to gather together for copious amounts of eating and drinking.

And, like a family gathering, our nation’s birthday bash can be fraught with tension.

I grant you, it’s very bad, but it’s been worse. Last I checked CNN, we weren’t battling our fellow citizens on blood-soaked battlefields near places with names like Gettysburg and Antietam.

While being ornery is an American tradition, like cheating on your taxes and complaining about your neighbor’s lawn, let’s all try to act like gracious birthday party guests — at least for one day.

Let’s be nice to everyone and not talk about how wasteful the government is or how Wisconsin should secede from the union. That last comment is a joke, though not in Texas.

Instead, let’s keep in mind this sentence from the Declaration of Independence: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” That’s not a bad sentiment to keep in mind — though we have to assume by “men,” the writer means “people.”

Now go Fourth and pursue some happiness.

Kenosha Pops Concert Band plays the Fourth of July 2019

FOURTH OF JULY POPS

Pop’s concert at the bandshell.


Brian Passino


FOURTH OF JULY POPS

FOURTH OF JULY POPS

There is plenty of spirit among the performers in the Kenosha Pops Concert Band during July, including the “antennae” worn by Cara Russo in the percussion section.


Kenosha News File Photo

FOURTH OF JULY POPS

FOURTH OF JULY POPS

Pops band member Veronica Chairez decorated her bassoon for the Fourth of July concert at the bandshell Wednesday.


Brian Passino


FOURTH OF JULY POPS

FOURTH OF JULY POPS

Steve and Melissa Marovich and their dog Cricket wait for the start of the Pops concert at the bandshell. Steve Marovich said, “It’s an excuse for a picnic,” while Melissa added, “And we just love a chance to get out with everybody and the band is terrific.”

FOURTH OF JULY POPS


Brian Passino


FOURTH OF JULY POPS

FOURTH OF JULY POPS

Pops concert band members Veronica Chairez, left, and Alexandra Gibson decorated their bassoons for the Fourth of July as they get ready for the concert at the bandshell Wednesday.


Brian Passino


FOURTH OF JULY POPS

FOURTH OF JULY POPS

Pops concert band members Alexandra Gibson, left, and Veronica Chairez, right, decorated their bassoons for the Fourth of July as they get ready for the concert at the bandshell Wednesday.


Brian Passino


FOURTH OF JULY POPS

FOURTH OF JULY POPS

There were many in the crowd who enjoyed the nice weather for Wednesday’s concert.

FOURTH OF JULY POPS


Brian Passino


FOURTH OF JULY POPS

FOURTH OF JULY POPS

Pop’s concert at the bandshell.


Brian Passino


FOURTH OF JULY POPS

FOURTH OF JULY POPS

Pop’s concert at the bandshell.


Brian Passino


FOURTH OF JULY POPS

FOURTH OF JULY POPS

Craig Gall is back conducting the Kenosha Pops Concert Band for its 100th season.


Kenosha News File Photo

FOURTH OF JULY POPS

FOURTH OF JULY POPS

Pop’s concert at the bandshell.


Brian Passino


FOURTH OF JULY POPS

FOURTH OF JULY POPS

Pop’s concert at the bandshell.


Brian Passino


Have a comment? Email Liz at [email protected] or call her at 262-656-6271.

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